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COVID-19 is not just seasonal, as ‘first wave’ continues

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The COVID-19 virus is likely not impacted by the changing seasons like other respiratory diseases, the UN health agency said on Tuesday, before urging much greater respect for physical distancing measures to stop it spreading.

“The season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus”, said Dr. Margaret Harris, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson, highlighting many people’s “fixed” belief to the contrary.

“What is affecting the transmission is mass gatherings, it’s people coming together, and people not social distancing, not taking the precautions to ensure they are not in close contact.”

Globally, WHO has reported as on Tuesday morning Geneva time, 16,301,736 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 650,069 deaths.

Hotspots

The Americas remains the epicentre by region, with more than 8.7 million cases, followed by Europe (3.2 million), South-East Asia (1.8 million), Eastern Mediterranean (1.5 million), Africa (712,920) and Western Pacific (291,993).

During a scheduled virtual press conference, Dr. Harris noted that the biggest outbreak “with the most intense, the highest numbers”, remained the US, where it is the middle of summer.

Brazil had also seen high infection rates, despite being an equatorial country, the WHO spokesperson continued.

‘Later’ flu season in Global South

Turning to countries in the global south, Dr Harris noted that winter was underway there, with samples tested, indicating “high” COVID infection rates but low influenza traces. “Now the interesting thing is we are seeing from those samples, high levels of COVID, but we’re not seeing high levels of influenza at the moment. So, we’re expecting a later flu season in the southern hemisphere.”

The development is in line with WHO’s latest influenza update indicating that globally, influenza activity is currently at lower-than-expected levels.

In temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity has “returned to inter-seasonal levels”.

In Caribbean, Central American, South American, tropical African, Southern Asia and South East Asia countries, the WHO bulletin reported that there have been only sporadic or no cases detected.

Assessing the impact on countries finding themselves having to tackle both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, the WHO spokesperson debated whether a “melange” of respiratory diseases might prove problematic.

“That would be a concern, because if you have an increase in respiratory illness when you already have a very high burden of respiratory illness, that puts even more pressure on the health system,” she said.

‘One big wave’

Dr Harris also pushed back on the perception that a respiratory illness might come and go in several waves.

“It’s going to be one big wave”, she said. “It’s going to go up and down a bit…the best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something that is lapping at your feet. But at the moment, first, second, third wave, these things don’t really make sense and we’re not really defining it that way.”

Asked about the WHO’s stance on charging for COVID-19 testing, the WHO official explained that this was a decision governed by countries alone. “Now we do everything we can to encourage all countries to test, because testing is absolutely essential,” she said. “You don’t know where your outbreak is if you’re not testing people. And we also encourage all countries to make access to testing wide and available”.

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Moscow electronic school — the future of education

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The Moscow Electronic School (“MES”) project is a cloud-based Internet platform launched in 2016 that unites all educational institutions in Moscow into a single high-tech environment. After successful testing, since September 1, 2017, the MES has been implemented in all educational organizations (schools, kindergartens, colleges) in Moscow and is available online for any user from anywhere in the world, from any device 24/7/365. Today MES unites about 3 million participants in the educational process of the capital, including teachers, students and their parents.

The Moscow Electronic School project is aimed at the most effective use of the school’s IT capabilities to improve the quality of student education by forming a connection between the organizational and content aspects of the educational process (interactive equipment, as well as personal devices of users connected to the Internet, are linked with the educational materials of the platform).

The “MES” platform provides automation of most of the organizational, methodological and pedagogical tasks solved in a modern large educational organization, makes the content of education more accessible, allows in practice to implement modern pedagogical technologies and approaches, for example, blended learning, distance and electronic education.

Today “MES” has become a real digital assistant for the modern teacher. Thanks to special digital constructors, Moscow teachers in the “MES” Library create lesson scripts, “folk” textbooks, self-study guides, tests that students use in class, when preparing design work at school, in the course of independent work. Thus, the service allows not only to use the posted educational materials, but also to supplement the cloud educational platform with its developments and content, as well as to share them with colleagues. Electronic versions of textbooks, teaching aids, interactive applications and other modern digital content allow the teacher to diversify the content of the assignments and make the learning process fun for children and more effective.

“MES” services

The key elements of the digital educational platform are an electronic journal, an electronic diary, a library of electronic materials, the “Moskvenok” service (Pass and Power system), as well as infrastructure solutions: Wi-Fi access points with high-speed Internet, school servers, touch-controlled interactive panels with a built-in computer, teachers’ tablets and laptops, a video surveillance system and turnstiles at the entrance.

“MES Library” is a unique repository of educational electronic materials and tools. The service is implemented in the web version and as a mobile application “MES Library”. Library materials are available online at no cost to any user from anywhere in the world.

The “Moskvenok” service helps parents place an order for their child’s hot meals (if the school is connected to the hot meal ordering service from the menu), check his arrival or departure from school, college or kindergarten, control his meals in the school cafeteria and the costs of the cafeteria. Children can use the “Moskvenok” carrier (bracelet, keychain or card) as a pass to an educational organization and museums in Moscow, as well as for non-cash payments for purchases at school.

The electronic diary contains complete information on training: curriculum for the year ahead, schedule and attendance of classes, progress, analytics. The service makes it possible to find out about current events and activities. It is available both in the web version and in the form of the “MES Diary” mobile application.

In the new academic year, “MES” will be replenished with a wide range of diverse partner educational content, which has already proven itself well among teachers and schoolchildren. Thanks to this, an additional 45 thousand units of new tools and materials will appear in the library: interactive presentations for lessons, design and research tasks, virtual laboratories and tests. Most of the tasks will be self-checking, that is, after completing the work, the teacher, student and parent can immediately familiarize themselves with the results.

Virtual laboratories

Another important area in the Moscow Electronic School is virtual laboratories – interactive online simulators of experiences and experiments for children and adults, which allow improving knowledge and skills in the subjects of the school curriculum. At the beginning of the academic year, new virtual laboratories for drawing, inorganic chemistry, computer science, mathematics, biology and physics will appear at the “MES”.

This year, in the library of the Moscow Electronic School, the collection of virtual laboratories has been replenished with 10 new laboratories in the section of biology “Cytology” for schoolchildren in grades 5-11. It has an interactive virtual microscope that allows you to view individual cells. And the children can consolidate the knowledge gained by “collecting” cells in a game format, solving an interactive problem or passing a thematic quiz.

It is now possible to design and conduct experiments on electrostatics, magnetostatics and electromagnetism in the virtual laboratory “Electromagnetic field. Faraday”, which became the fifth in the line of physics laboratories. The new laboratory will help schoolchildren to master the main sections of electrodynamics: electrostatics, magnetic field and electromagnetic phenomena.

Another novelty is the virtual laboratory “MES Informatics” for students in grades 7-11. Children will be able to test their knowledge using 290 ready-made tests, practice using more than 9 thousand tasks, and also take 254 programming courses.

Student’s portfolio

An important innovation of the “MES” is the new “Student portfolio” service. It will accumulate the results and achievements of schoolchildren not only in the educational part, but also in olympiads, competitions, sports competitions. Also, students and their parents will be able to independently enter information into the new service, edit data and share their portfolio with friends, teachers, organizations.

Thematic materials about Russian writers

At the end of July, the project “Moscow Electronic School” made available thematic materials about the life and work of one of the greatest poets of the golden age of Russian literature – Mikhail Lermontov.

Also, the project “Moscow Electronic School” presented a thematic selection of materials about the life and work of Fyodor Dostoevsky in the year of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the writer. Schoolchildren are offered to go on a virtual trip to St. Petersburg of the XIX century and get acquainted with the peculiarities of the worldview of the classic.

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Over 50 Companies Reporting on Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics as International Support Grows

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The World Economic Forum announces today the continued growth of the coalition of companies supporting the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics initiative. Since January 2020-2021, over 100 companies have shown support for this initiative with over 50 already including the metrics in their 2020-2021 reporting materials.

Drawn from existing standards, the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics provides a set of metrics that can be reported on by all companies, regardless of industry or region.

The metrics also offer comparability, which is particularly important for informing ongoing efforts to create a systemic, globally accepted set of common standards for reporting on sustainability performance.

“We are delighted to see so many companies joining this effort and, even more so, excited to see many already implementing the metrics into their reporting,” said Olivier Schwab, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “This is the first time we have publicly seen this breadth of data from global companies across sectors on ESG factors. The Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics are already demonstrating that consistent and comparable ESG reporting can help articulate to stakeholders the collective contribution of ESG commitments.”

The World Economic Forum is currently a member of the IFRS Foundation’s Technical Readiness Working Group, which is providing technical proposals to enable a running start for the potential International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) under the IFRS Foundation’s governance structure to be announced by COP26. The Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics are a key input to this work and serve as an important preparedness tool for companies until global sustainability-related disclosure standards are established.

An early analysis of reports already incorporating the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics in mainstream reporting demonstrates that it is now easier to consistently measure individual company progress against critical ESG areas, as well as the collective impact of those companies committed to reporting the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics. An initial analysis of the first reports indicates the power of cumulative impact from the private sector together.

The emerging picture of the scale in which business is contributing to society is positive. An initial analysis of the first 45 reports from companies shows how companies are building skills for the future, with over $1.5 trillion invested in training. They also indicate that companies are innovating for better products and services, with over $20 trillion spent on R&D and $23 trillion in cumulative multi-year innovation investments. Lastly, they are contributing to their communities and social vitality with nearly $140 trillion in taxes.

Building trust and transparency

In today’s context, businesses are facing increasing pressure to deliver sustainable prosperity while minimizing their climate impact, engaging a diverse workforce and many other deliverables. The Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics allow businesses, across industries, to measure, manage and disclose their impact on these ESG factors effectively.

Further benefits, as relayed by the companies, also include the ability to communicate through reporting. A company’s performance and progress can enact change within the organization, secure investments upfront to reduce future costs and gain efficiencies in the long term and increase transparency to build trust with stakeholders.

Companies have also faced some challenges reporting on the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics. These include data accessibility, jurisdictional challenges and data-processing capabilities. Despite these challenges, corporate support for ESG reporting and the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics initiative continues to grow and the Forum will continue to invite all of its partners to join this initiative.

Companies that have committed to the metrics since January 2021 include:

  • Allied Irish Banks
  • ALROSA
  • Bain & Company
  • Biogen
  • Crescent Enterprises
  • Crescent Petroleum
  • Diligent Corporation
  • Enel SpA
  • Engro Corporation
  • EQT
  • Ericsson
  • Galp
  • Gingko Bioworks
  • Hanwha Asset Management
  • Henry Schein
  • Hyundai Motor Group
  • Intesa Sanpaolo
  • Koç Holding
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
  • Nasdaq
  • Norilsk Nickel
  • Occidental
  • Olayan Financing Company
  • Olayan Saudi Holding Company
  • Orkla
  • PETRONAS
  • PTT
  • SAP
  • SOMPO Holdings
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Swiss Re
  • Trafigura
  • Wipro

Newly committed companies join others in the coalition in committing to:

  • Reflect the core metrics in their reporting to investors and other stakeholders (e.g., annual report, sustainability report, proxy statements, or other materials) by reporting on the metrics most relevant to their business or briefly explaining why a different approach is more appropriate
  • Publicly support this work and encourage their business partners to do so
  • Promote the further convergence of existing ESG standards, frameworks and principles to support progress towards a globally accepted solution for non-financial reporting on common ESG metrics

They also signal that the business community will continue to catalyse greater cooperation and alignment among existing standards and encourage progress on the development of a systemic, globally accepted set of common standards for reporting on sustainability performance.

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Deloitte reports FY2021 revenue

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Deloitte today reported aggregate global revenue of US$50.2 billion for the fiscal year ending 31 May 2021 (FY2021), a 5.5% increase in US dollars (USD).

“Events of this past year have had an unprecedented impact on the world and our organization. From the COVID-19 pandemic to more frequent, extreme climate events, and social upheavals, we are grateful that we’ve been able to continue to help clients and support our people as we all navigate through this challenging environment,” says Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO. “While the past year was difficult and defined by uncertainty, it has shown what can be achieved at speed and scale when businesses, governments, and society work together to tackle tough global challenges. This cooperative approach is a model that we must continue to build on.”

“Deloitte embraces the opportunity to lead by example, to drive change through cooperative efforts, and to find and invest in better solutions to business and societal challenges. Our focus during the past year has been on deploying our global capabilities to help clients respond, recover, and thrive during the pandemic; enabling mental and physical wellness for our professionals to perform at the highest levels; helping communities address the need for greater health equity and better educational opportunities; and prioritizing the environment as we move closer toward our net-zero target,” adds Renjen.

Staying resilient, responding to clients’ evolving needs

Deloitte successfully served clients, leveraging investments in technology that helped us stay connected, expand alliance relationships, invest in innovation, and serve the public interest. Deloitte’s success during the year reflects our commitment and our ability to adapt to meet the evolving needs of our clients.

Among the businesses, Financial Advisory grew fastest at 12.9% in USD, followed by Audit & Assurance, which grew 6.1% in USD. Government & Public Services was the fastest growing industry, followed by Technology, Media & Telecommunications. Financial Services clients contributed 27% of Deloitte’s total revenue. Among the regions, Asia Pacific (APAC) grew fastest at 14%, followed by Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), which grew at 11.3% (both in USD). We also expanded our global alliance and ecosystem business by 24%. Additional business insights include:

Audit & Assurance continued to deliver consistently high-quality audits in line with our public interest role within the financial reporting ecosystem. We deployed our global audit platforms, Deloitte Omnia and Deloitte Levvia, to advance innovation in audit service delivery worldwide. Our Audit & Assurance professionals assisted clients and stakeholders in addressing ESG reporting needs as well. Assurance services continue to help clients thrive as they manage complexities and opportunities in the financial, regulatory, and operational landscape. Audit & Assurance revenue grew 6.1% in USD.

Consulting helped clients build organizational resilience and imagine different futures using its scale and vast industry and sector expertise, especially in areas most disrupted by the pandemic. Deloitte continued to develop cloud native software solutions to accelerate digital transformation and made significant investments in next-generation technologies—including cloud and edge computing, and artificial intelligence. Drawing on our alliances with 15 leading technology companies, we orchestrated ecosystems to deliver integrated technology solutions for clients in innovative ways. With the creation of the Deloitte Center for AI Computing and targeted strategic acquisitions, we advanced the development of new offerings and services. Consulting revenue grew 5% in USD.

Financial Advisory served as a trusted advisor on thousands of distressed and COVID-related mandates. Additionally, Deloitte’s market-leading M&A practices advised on thousands of transactions during the merger wave of 2020, and our Turnaround and Restructuring teams assisted governments around the world to administer pandemic-related funding for businesses and individuals. Deloitte also participated in government-sponsored COVID-19 task forces, advising on distressed sectors. The Deloitte Center for ESG Solutions supplied decarbonization, hydrogen, electricity, and other quantitative energy models to support major sustainable energy transformation projects. Financial Advisory revenue grew 12.9% in USD.

Risk Advisory supported clients to build trust, demonstrate resilience, and strengthen their security. With cyberattacks on the rise, Deloitte’s 22,000 cyber professionals helped organizations identify cyber risks, prepare for and detect threats, strengthen and secure their environments and, most importantly, respond and recover quickly. Our professionals worked with clients to digitally transform their compliance and internal control systems while these organizations navigated virtual work environments and evolving regulations. We also accelerated our clients’ journey to net-zero, delivering a portfolio of services globally. Risk Advisory revenue grew 5.6% in USD.

Tax & Legal supported clients navigating the ongoing complexity caused by the pandemic as they developed plans for recovery and growth. The acceleration of new business models is challenging the tax function in fundamental ways and driving demand for transformative tax operating models including outsourcing and co-sourcing of routine compliance and reporting activities. As a result, clients are seeking advisory services to embed resilience and innovate through technology, and fueling growth in areas like major tax policy reforms, digitization of tax, M&A, supply chain, employment and mobility, and sustainability reporting. Deloitte Legal responded to changing demands from clients by transforming its core services, focusing on helping clients be resilient through the pandemic, becoming a leading digital legal service provider of choice, and building a thriving Legal Management Consulting practice. Tax & Legal revenue grew by 2.3% in USD.

Additionally, in FY2021, Deloitte intensified efforts to help clients advance their ESG and sustainability efforts. Employing innovative approaches, digital solutions, deep industry insights, and lessons learned from our own experiences, Deloitte worked with clients to develop their strategies and adapt their operations for success in a changing marketplace.

For the third consecutive year, Brand Finance recognized Deloitte as the strongest and most valuable commercial services brand in the world. And industry analysts continued to acknowledge Deloitte’s leadership in many service areas including cloud, cyber, strategy, and analytics.

Living our Purpose by making a positive impact for people and society 

As the world’s largest professional services organization, Deloitte is guided by its purpose to make an impact that matters. For Deloitte professionals, that means working to address the increasingly complex challenges society faces and creating a future where trust in institutions and systems is restored and progress is made on major societal challenges—including systemic racial injustice, social inequity, climate change, and economic inequality.

In FY2021, Deloitte made significant progress on ESG reporting; education; health equity; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); mental health; and the environment. Deloitte’s FY2021 societal impact investment was $223 million USD, bringing our five-year investment total to $1.15 billion USD.

ESG reporting: This year, the Deloitte Global Impact Report includes in-depth reporting of our impact on the environment and on society, as well as a more detailed look at the structures and processes of our organization. 

In FY2021, Deloitte began reporting against the World Economic Forum’s Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics. This effort builds on the critical work we are doing as part of the Forum’s International Business Council (IBC) to lead and promote the adoption of a common set of ESG reporting metrics. These metrics enable companies to measure value-creation factors, increase reporting transparency and comparability for stakeholders and drive action to achieve sustainable long-term performance.  

We also issued our first report following the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures detailing our processes for addressing climate change risks and opportunities in the areas of governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets. The report quantifies climate change impacts in financial terms and also examines risks and opportunities under two different climate scenarios.

Education and skills building: While the pandemic has accelerated trends such as reskilling and leveraging technology to improve educational outcomes, it has also exposed widening inequalities. Recognizing these challenges and the life-altering outcomes an education can provide, Deloitte doubled its commitment to supporting those being left behind in school and at work by increasing our WorldClass goal from 50 million to 100 million individuals reached by 2030. In FY2021, we reached 8.2 million individuals, and since 2017, we have reached 20 million individuals.

Through WorldClass, and throughout the pandemic, Deloitte has invested in programs to help students keep learning, including educating children in remote villages in India and virtual mentoring through Strive for College in the United States to help students who face financial need navigate getting into and through college and starting their career. To achieve our WorldClass goals, in May 2021 Deloitte launched The WorldClass Education Challenge, an initiative inviting educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators to work alongside Deloitte professionals and the World Economic Forum’s UpLink platform to identify and advance solutions that support access to a quality education for more of the world’s students.

Health equity: COVID-19 challenged us all—public and private sector alike—to rethink the status quo to rebuild and reinvest in more equitable and affordable health care infrastructure.

In FY2021, Deloitte piloted an initiative with the Government of Haryana state in India that offers a potential remedy to underinvestment in public health infrastructure. Together with state government and medical professionals, Deloitte developed a uniquely Indian approach that leveraged local resources to deliver support and home care to those in the Karnal district with mild to moderate COVID-19, freeing up local hospitals to care for the most critically ill patients. Deloitte’s program is being expanded to Africa, Brazil and Southeast Asia.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and mental health: We want our people to feel accepted as they are, engaged in our organization, and empowered to succeed. That commitment is reflected in Deloitte’s ALLIN global diversity and inclusion strategy. The foundation of our strategy is our emphasis on respect and inclusion, which focuses on all aspects of diversity. Built upon this foundation are three pillars—working toward gender balance, fostering LGBT+ inclusion, and supporting mental health—that advance all of our interventions and actions.

The events of FY2021 highlighted the growing recognition of mental health as a critical component of overall well-being. To meet the needs of our people, we established a mental health baseline for measuring well-being factors, made a global commitment to mental health within our organization and in society at large, and became a Founding Partner of the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace and facilitate the adoption of best practices that enable employees to thrive in the workplace.

Expanding our commitment to the environment

Deloitte believes deeply that climate change is one of the defining global challenges of our time. Through Deloitte’s WorldClimate strategy, we are driving responsible climate choices within our organization and beyond.

  • We’re empowering our more than 345,000 professionals to take individual and collective climate action alongside clients and communities. In collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we developed a climate learning program for all Deloitte professionals.
  • As part of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen joined over 70 CEOs in an open letter urging world leaders to support “bold and courageous commitments, policies and actions.”
  • In recognition of Deloitte’s environmental commitment, Deloitte’s greenhouse gas reduction goals were validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Additionally, Deloitte committed to all three Climate Group initiatives supporting 100% renewable electricity (RE100), 100% electric vehicles adoption (EV100), and energy efficiency/productivity (EP100) within our organization globally. We made great progress towards these targets during FY2021, reducing absolute carbon emissions by 41% and carbon emissions per FTE by 44% from our base year of FY2019. 

“While the pandemic and disruptions of the past year have exposed considerable inequities in our society, they have also provided us with an opportunity to build resilience into our global economy, rebuild trust in our systems and businesses, and foster a better future for more of the world’s people,”adds Renjen. “Our future is not preordained. We can create a better world for future generations. To thrive tomorrow, it is imperative for everyone—governments, businesses, and individuals—to put people and our environment first, and act now to create a more resilient world that is prepared for and adaptable to the next set of challenges.”

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